I know this holiday picks up popularity like a runaway snowball. Lately it's not just about costumes and treats, but massive amounts of decor, and even lights. It thinks it's competing with Christmas. But to me it's not even in the running.
It started when I was, um, two. My mother made me an adorable clown costume, and my 4-year-old cousin dressed up like a black cat. Scared me half to death. For years I would bury my face in my mother's skirt whenever we turned to that photo in the family album. Something about seeing my favorite cousin dressed up as a spooky black cat gave me unbearable creeps.
Then in elementary school I was the pathetic nerdy kid who would not, could not go to the Sixth Grade's spook alley...even as a fifth grader! And now I sit back in disbelief as my kids beg to visit such Halloween offerings as "Castle of Chaos," "Scream Asylum," and "Nightmare on 13th." I seriously don't understand the appeal. My problem with Halloween, in a nutshell is that I simply DO NOT LIKE TO BE AFRAID. In fact, I take refuge in this scripture: "For God hath not given us the spirit of FEAR, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)
My biggest aversion to Halloween came the year we had a stillborn baby. Nineteen days before Halloween. I was suffering under the weight of this lost child, and could not fathom why anyone would want to celebrate death. Turn their yards into graveyards. Dress as the Grim Reaper. Fill the world with blood and gore. Just the sight of it all made me sick. All this death and decay did not contribute to "a sound mind." That year I dressed in black, but couldn't bring myself to don a costume. My closest friend somehow knew how this whole October thing was affecting me, and showed up at my house every afternoon so I wouldn't have to be alone in my grief. She literally got me through the month (and the holiday of horror) by giving me one thing to look forward to every day. Her presence.
That is as cold and dark as Halloween ever got for me. And I hope I never have to go there again.
I have one really wonderful Halloween memory that I want to share with you, though: Our first Halloween in Pasadena, when our oldest was about two, we took him trick-or-treating for the first time to a little activity at our church called Trunk-or-Treat. This is all the rage now, but was fairly new at the time, designed to provide a safe place for children to trick-or-treat from car to car. We took Joshy out in his adorable dinosaur costume and started making the rounds to the various trunks with our plastic pumpkin (which we had seeded with a few morsels from the treats we were giving away from our own trunk that year). At the very first trunk a cute young couple oohed and ahhed over his costume, and then dropped a tootsie roll into his bucket. Now, you have to picture yourself as the mother there for this brief instant: I watched with sheer amazement as Joshy then reached into his bucket and PULLED OUT A TREAT FOR EACH OF THEM.
As a young mother, I was thrilled to see our child wanting to share rather than take. No one had briefed him on the rituals of trick-or-treating. What we saw was a natural response from his naturally giving heart. It was a moment I'll never forget. A window into this little boy's heart. Which I still see as very grateful, generous, and giving. Even at seventeen.
So forgive me for not having a skeleton on my porch, or orange lights lining my roof. I do not like to be afraid. But be sure to stop by for a homemade cookie or a handful of treats. Because I really love to give.